Fla. emergency district, old department still fighting over land

The old volunteer department lost its contract to provide service and is seeking rent from the new department


By David Goodhue
The Reporter

KEY LARGO — The special taxing district that controls the budgets of Key Largo's fire and ambulance services is still battling with the fire company that lost its contract last year over land the company owns.

The Key Largo Volunteer Fire Department's firehouse is on the mile marker 99 land, but the former department, the Key Largo Volunteer Fire-Rescue Department, owns the land and wants almost $700 a month rent from the district.

The amount covers $1 a month for rent, plus the amount equaling the monthly building liability insurance and the electric bill, which the old department estimates to be about $520 and $167 respectively.

The five-member Key Largo Fire-Rescue and Emergency Medical Services District board was expected to decide at a meeting Monday whether to pay the fee. But the four commissioners at the meeting decided to table the matter until their June 9 meeting.

If the commission decides to pay the money, it will be retroactively due from March.

The old department, led by longtime Chief Sergio Garcia, still exists as a nonprofit corporation. It lost the contract after continuously butting heads with commissioners, most notably Commissioner Bob Thomas, who is chairman of the district's board.

Thomas indicated Monday he does not agree with the old department's proposal.

"I'm not happy about paying rent on this anyway," he said.

Before the commissioners voted 3-2 last year to sever ties with the old department and start a new one under the leadership of the Key Largo Ambulance Corps, the district paid a monthly rate to Garcia's department of $1.

There are other provisions in the proposal to which Thomas said he objects, including one that stipulates the old department can make repairs to the property and send the bill to the taxing district.

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(c)2014 The Reporter (Tavernier, Fla.)

Distributed by MCT Information Services

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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